ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari, who met with US Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, has decided to extend his stay in the United States. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has not commented on the meeting between Zardari and Biden but the media cell released a photograph on Wednesday of the two leaders meeting at an Iftar dinner. PPP leaders have also refrained from remarking on the visit or Zardari’s schedule in the US.
“We are a major party in Pakistan and Zardari is not only a former president but he heads this party and meets important world leaders whenever he is abroad,” PPP Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira said. He added that a number of issues including the current political situation come under discussion during these meetings.
PPP sources said Zardari was scheduled to spend Eid in Pakistan, but has now extended his stay in the US. He is scheduled to meet US Congressmen and administration officials.
Zardari’s trip comes as the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is confronted with multiple challenges, amongst which is the issue of the fate of former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, considered a close ally of the previous US administration.
Incumbent Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly and PPP leader Shehla Raza recently claimed that under the NRO, the PPP consented to a clause under which the military would not take power for three government terms in Pakistan. Raza said then-ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha and other stakeholders, including the US, were privy to the deal.
Zardari’s spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar refuted the claim and termed the remarks ‘misleading’.
PPP Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira, when contacted, said the party spokesman has already clarified its position through Babar’s statement. When asked about Zardari’s visit, he said: “We are a major party of country. Zardari is not only a former president, but he heads a former ruling party and he meets important world leaders whenever he visits abroad.”
He said during these informal meetings a number of issues including political situation and general matters came under discussion.
PPP Secretary General Senator Jahangir Badar also claimed that he was unaware of Zardari’s schedule in the United States and skipped questions regarding Shehla Raza’s claims.
Meanwhile, according to a statement, Zardari and Biden discussed Operation Zarb-e-Azb and other regional and bilateral issues during their meeting. They also exchanged views on the regional situation after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ